Book Review: The Guest List

by Eve D.

I read another book! This one is The Guest List by Lucy Foley. ($18, Kindle).

It’s kind of the modern version of Murder on the Orient Express, except this is a wedding on a small island, where one member of the wedding party is murdered, and we spend the book trying to figure out who, why and by whom. Each chapter is written in the first-person voice of the various characters, and about half way through the book you start to connect the threads, the “coincidences”, the possible motives and so on.

Where the book falls a bit flat – almost causing me to give up on it early on – is that the author does not quite manage to create a unique voice for each character, and their chapters are distinguished from each other not by voice and style, but by the “back story”. It’s also a bit difficult to keep track of everybody at the beginning, and the story takes a very long time to get going. It seems the first two thirds of the book are just introducing the characters, and there is a definite sense of the author “telling you, not showing you” throughout the book. As a reader, I sometimes felt I was being spoon-fed.

Nevertheless, there is intrigue, and there are enough clues thrown out throughout the book to allow you a good shot at the who, how and why, if you pay attention. This is the kind of book you want to read by the pool, without too much expectation. It took me about 5 hours, spread out over a couple of days. The book has a 4.5 star rating on Amazon. I give it between 3.5 and 4 stars. It’s a fun read, but not a must read. And although you probably won’t still be thinking about it a day after you finish it, you also won’t have regrets about spending the time to read it either.

These are some excerpts from the Amazon page:

The bride – The plus one – The best man – The wedding planner – The bridesmaid – The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

and

It seemed like once the author assembled all of the guests on the island and described their relationships and backgrounds, she didn’t know what to do with them. There is very little action or suspenseful buildup for the first 2/3 of this book. In fact, it was so slow, I almost abandoned it. It does pick up pace for the last third of the book, and the reader is finally able to understand who was killed and why. Of course, several guests had motive. The murder itself is almost a relief, because something finally happens!

You can find the book here, for $18 (which, btw, I think is ridiculously expensive for a Kindle book).

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